‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’: Season 3 DVD preview event report

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Star Wars has surely been the film franchise from which the largest number of spin-offs and tie-ins have been spun. From the prequel movies, to an endless supply of toys and collectables, to the numerous novels and comics and video game franchises, the Star Wars extended universe is a huge one. However, one market the franchise has never quite managed to crack is that of television. One glance at the infamous Ewok movies of the ‘80s will tell you why.

But all that has changed. Star Wars: The Clone Wars follows on from Star Wars: Clone Wars, the 2003 animated series that was based on Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (keeping up at the back?), and represents the most successful foray into TV that George Lucas’ behemoth has made yet.

CultBox were recently treated to an screening of a three-episode story-arc from the third season (there are five planned), as well a sneak preview of some upcoming DVD content. During these we get to see the voice actors at work (they all look strangely like their digital counterparts) and speaking passionately about their show. Matt Lanter, who voices Anakin, sees the series as “films in 22 minutes”. There’s also a short but sweet video of Dave Filoni (AKA Chewbacca) being consulted over the development of the new CGI Chewbacca.

The whole show is animated with CGI, the stylisation of which might seem a little disconcerting at first, but once you’re attuned to it, it becomes pleasingly chunky and at times eye-meltingly beautiful. In fact, the show is so good-looking that you can’t help but think that the prequel movies would perhaps have been a lot better had they been shot in this style. Given how bogged down with CGI they were anyway, it wouldn’t have been too much of a leap. It certainly flows a lot better when it’s all CGI and doesn’t feel as intrusive or cloying.

While the show does feature many of the characters from the films, The Clone Wars isn’t bound to featuring them at the forefront. Here they have free license to invent new characters and develop new sides of some of the less established ones (Count Dooku), and explore previously untouched corners of the universe.

Unfortunately, when the show does focus on the established characters of Obi Wan and Anakin, things feel as awkwardly forced and stilted as they did during the prequels. Thankfully, then, the story-arc we’re shown focuses primarily on new characters.

The plot follows Asajj Ventress, a vengeful Dark Jedi with a vendetta against former mentor Count Dooku, after he leaves her for dead during a botched mission. In order to exact this revenge, Ventress goes looking for a warrior with the potential to defeat him. However, in the impulsive and primal Savage Opress, she may have found a creature much more powerful than even she had bargained for…

It’s an entertaining arc, and the episodes we’re shown end on a cliffhanger that hints at an unexpected and exciting development that will surely thrill any Star Wars fan!

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is extremely fast paced – almost to a fault. There’s not much pause for breath and the action comes thick and fast. While it is very impressive and engaging action, in 22 minute bursts one suspects it could be a bit much and the episodes could be somewhat unsatisfying.

However, when pieced together and watched in feature-length sessions of 3 or 4 episodes, that classic Star Wars richness begins to shine through. It’s also a surprisingly dark show at times; in one moment that might concern the parents of any younger children watching, one characters kills his apparent best friend without batting an eyelid.

A paradoxically dark and colourful show, then, The Clone Wars may not quite be the “movie in 22 minutes” that team involved think it is, but when you watch several of them together in the style of a movie… Well, it’s probably better than the three prequel movies in most respects.

> Order the Season 3 boxset on Amazon.

Watch the trailer…